When I was 4 years of age, I used to visit my home country of Nigeria, and we often visited during the summer time together as a family. I was always excited when we went on these trips because I got to play with my cousins, and it made me happy when I knew I was going to see them.
On one sunny afternoon, me and my cousins decided to play hide and seek. We usually played a lot of games everyday out in the neighborhood until the sun went down. On this very day, as we played hide and seek, I spotted one of my dad's campaign buses (he was running for office in Benin City at the time). I saw that the driver wasn't inside so I immediately decided that hiding under the bus was a good spot. I squeezed myself beneath the front of the bus and leaned up against one of the tires. I sat there and waited, hoping I wouldn’t be found.
Little did I know that shortly after hiding under the bus, the driver had gotten in. Before I understood what was going on, he had hit the accelerator and the bus had rolled over me, knocking me around and dragging me. I felt pain in my skull, ribs, arms, and all over.
This wild accident left me with a fractured skull, broken phalange (hand bone), a few broken ribs, and more. This was a very huge blow for me, and I didn't know what the future held for me at the point. The trauma the accident caused me was so deep that I couldn't even look at my mum, who was crying and pacing all over when she saw me in the hospital. It was a brutal accident to survive, and I was so scared about the situation. I feared I might not be able to walk for the rest of my life, and this really startled me. Nobody should have to go through what I faced as a child.
I didn't want the accident to be the start of a downward spiral for me, so every night I got out of bed and tried to stand on my feet without the crutches. I remember my knees shaking and my ankles almost falling apart every time I tried to stand, but I didn’t even pay mind to that. All I cared about was getting back on my feet and making a full recovery. This was my vision, and I told myself it would happen, so I kept going at it and pushing myself.
About five months after the accident, I was fully back on my feet, and I knew in my heart that those conscious efforts I had put into recovering were the most important steps that helped me heal. Today I stand at 6’3” as the most athletic person in my family and one of the most athletic players on my school’s basketball team. I’m still able to chase my dreams of being a professional athlete. Looking back at that scared little boy who had just gone through the most excruciating pain in his life and broken almost all the bones in his body, I know he would have called anyone a liar if someone had told him that one day he would still have the ability and potential to become a professional athlete.
That horrible experience is my drive. It’s what makes me perform day in and day out, and it’s what makes me feel like I should put in more work than I'm required to because I'm definitely here by grace.
My yesterday is history and my tomorrow’s a mystery, and I won't stop until I know my future is secured and I can tell myself that a broken young boy made it! Now I know that tough times don't last, only tough people do!
© Iyiosayi Ray Idugboe. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.